Charleston, South Carolina Short Term Rental Regulations

Navigate short-term rental regulations with ease! From coastal retreats to urban hubs, our in-depth guides break down the essentials for cities across the nation. Stay informed of changes to local Airbnb rules with our up-to-date insights and best practices.


Reviewed by Karolyn Hutson

Last updated August 23, 2023

Charleston Short-Term Rental Regulations

Information is maintained by the community to provide helpful insights and links to local regulations, HostScouts does not provide legal or investment advice.

City Code of Ordinances

Charleston regulates short-term rentals in all areas of the city. Short-term rentals are defined as "A conditional use to provide sleeping accommodations for a period of between one (1) and twenty-nine (29) consecutive days. This use is further defined in this section as either a commercial short-term rental use or a residential short-term rental use with different permitting and operational requirements for each type of short-term rental use.” Commercial Short Term Rental - a conditional use whereby a conforming or legal nonconforming dwelling unit is converted into a fully-functioning, private accommodations use, which includes cooking, living, sanitary and sleeping facilities within one dwelling unit, to be rented to one (1) family for a period of between one (1) and twenty-nine (29) consecutive days. A short-term commercial rental shall only be permitted as a conditional use. Distinguishing characteristics of a short term rental are: 
  • it has all the attributes of a typical dwelling unit, including cooking, living, sanitary, and sleeping facilities, 
  • is occupied by not more than four (4) unrelated people pursuant to the definition of family, and 
  • is located on a commercially zoned property with a limited number of short-term rental units if more than one such unit is provided. 
 Commercial Short Term Rental is only allowed in the following zoning districts: CT, LB, GB, UC, MU-1, MU-1/WH, MU-2, or MU-2/WH, and Short Term, ST Overlay Zone, as shown on the Zoning Map.  Residential Short Term Rental - Conditional use whereby the record owner of a property, who is also a resident of the property, uses one (1) or more rooms on the property for the purpose of providing sleeping accommodations for no more than four (4) adults (18 years and older) for a period of between one (1) and twenty-nine (29) consecutive days.  A residential short-term rental use may be permitted as a Category 1, Category 2, or Category 3 STR Permit. While hosting short-term guests, a resident must be present in the home. While the homeowner is not required to be present at all times while guests are present, at least one full-time resident must sleep in the house each night of the renters' stay.
  • Only homes on the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for short-term rental in Category 1, which includes the Old and Historic District. 
  • With the exception of the STR Overlay Zone, the rest of the peninsula is classified as Category 2. Category 2 properties must be at least fifty years old to qualify. 
  • The rest of the city is classified as Category 3, which includes the incorporated communities of West Ashley, James Island, Johns Island, Cainhoy, and Daniel Island. There is no restriction on the age of the property in these places. For more information regarding the category, see Sec. 54-208.

For more information, see Charleston Short-Term Rental Ordinance

Business License Requirements

Charleston requires short-term rental businesses to obtain either a Residential Short Term Rental Application or Commercial Short Term Rental Application. You will also need a Charleston County Short-Term Rental Certificate.

Building and Housing Standards

The City of Charleston has rules and regulations that specify minimum building, design, maintenance standards, habitability, health, and safety requirements. Some rules and regulations that apply to residential and non-residential properties may apply to your listing. Please consult the City of Charleston Building Code and contact the Building Inspections Department for more information.

Tourist and Local Taxes

Accommodation taxes must be collected by short-term rental operators. Even if you hire a property manager, it is ultimately your responsibility as the property owner to collect these taxes from the tenants and submit them to the appropriate state and local authorities. Find out more about the accommodations tax.

Other Rules

It is also essential to understand and abide by other contracts or rules that bind you, such as leases, condo boards, co-op rules, HOA rules, or rules established by tenant organizations. Please read your lease agreement and check with your landlord if applicable. Visit the City of Charleston for more information.
Improve this Page

Is something not quite right? Registered users can suggest changes to this guide.

  • Short Term City Rating
  • Competition

  • Real Estate Cost

  • STR Regulations

  • Seasonality

  • Rental Rates


Charleston, South Carolina Quick Stats

Short-term rentals have gained a lot of traction in the last few years. The trends and statistics of this sector are constantly changing, and having access to accurate data is essential for making sound investment decisions.

STR License Required
Tourist Season
September to November
Charleston International Airport (CHS)
Mount Pleasant Regional Airport (KLRO)
Review our Charleston South Carolina short-term rental analytics guide, including rates, property types and other metrics

Want to learn more about Charleston?

Hostscouts has you covered. Our guides for this city cover topics that can help you research cities across the US quickly and easily.

Check out our Charleston rental analytics guide if you're interested in data on the Charleston rental market.

City Activities

Review the popular activities that hosts include in their property positing in Charleston.

City Attractions

The most popular local and regional landmarks hosts usually include in their Airbnb or Vrbo property listings.

Charleston Rental Rates & Fees

Explore nightly rates that hosts list their properties and the average fees for pets and additional guests.

Property Types & Sizes

What are the most popular property sizes for rent? Research whether a 1, 2, or 3 bedroom best fits Charleston guests.

Interested in other South Carolina cities?

Check out the South Carolina Airbnb rules directory 

What makes Charleston a great place to invest?

Charleston is a coastal city in South Carolina with a population of approximately 130000. It is located on Charleston Harbor and on the Ashley River, which divides the city into North and South sections. Visitors can explore the city's many museums and historical sites, take a scenic boat ride or stroll along the waterfront, dine in one of the many excellent restaurants, or shop in the unique boutiques. Charleston is also home to several annual festivals and events, so there's always something going on.

There is so much to see and do in Charleston, SC! This historic city is full of charm, character, and southern hospitality. 
  • Historic Charm: Charleston, South Carolina, boasts an unparalleled blend of rich history and southern charm. Stroll along the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter and Battery districts, marvel at the well-preserved antebellum mansions, or take a guided tour through the city's iconic plantations, such as Magnolia Plantation and Gardens or Boone Hall Plantation.
  • Award-winning Culinary Scene: Foodies rejoice! Charleston's vibrant culinary scene is renowned for its mouthwatering Lowcountry cuisine, fresh seafood, and farm-to-table dining. Indulge in classic dishes like shrimp and grits or she-crab soup, and explore the city's multitude of award-winning restaurants, including Husk, FIG, and Rodney Scott's BBQ.
  • Beaches and Outdoor Activities: Embrace the great outdoors with a visit to one of Charleston's pristine beaches, such as Folly Beach or Isle of Palms. Whether you're looking to sunbathe, surf, or stroll along the shoreline, the area's picturesque beaches offer the perfect escape. For more adventure, try kayaking through the marshlands, paddleboarding on Shem Creek, or embarking on a dolphin-spotting boat tour.
  • Breathtaking Natural Parks: Discover the natural beauty of Charleston by visiting the enchanting Cypress Gardens, home to stunning swamp landscapes and native wildlife. Or, explore the serene Caw Caw Interpretive Center, which offers miles of walking trails through diverse habitats, perfect for birdwatching and spotting alligators

Charleston Nearby Cities

Local Real Estate

How expensive is the real estate in Charleston?

The cost of real estate can vary widely depending on the location, size, and features of the property, as well as market conditions. The median home value in Charleston has decreased -4% over the past year, and the average price per square foot is $537, which is higher than the national average.

Median Sale Price


-4% YoY

Median per Square Foot


4% YoY

Average Monthly Rent


10% YoY

Property Descriptions

The most common terms hosts include in their listings for Charleston, South Carolina

Word Cloud for Charleston, South Carolina Short Term Rentals

Common terms for Charleston short term rental listings.

When potential guests are scrolling through listings on Airbnb, they’re looking for certain essential information to help them decide if your property is the right fit for their needs. As a host, ensuring that your listing includes all the relevant information that guests will be looking for is vital.

Some of the must-have elements of a property description include:

  • Location: Guests will want to know where your property is located in relation to popular attractions, public transportation, and other points of interest.
  • Amenities: What amenities does your property offer? Be sure to list all features guests can access, such as a pool, hot tub, parking, etc.
  • Informative: The average listing in Charleston has a description approximately 2,552 words long. Make sure yours is long enough to describe your property but doesn't require your potential guest to read a novel.

After reviewing more than 6,579 listings in Charleston, we've consolidated the most common terms on the word cloud. The larger text represents a term that is used more often. The top ten mentioned terms are Beach, Wonderer, Charleston, City, Folly Beach, Downtown Charleston, Block, Perfect, Pool, and Outdoor.

What are the most popular tourist activities in Charleston?

Whether renting a house, an apartment, or a room, you should include popular tourist activities in your posting. The most common choices mentioned on property listings in Charleston involve Boating, Swimming, Surfing, the Beach, and Museums. When you write your listing, have a section with recommended activities near the property to give your guests an idea of what is available.






Adventure Activities




City Centre

Wildlife Viewing


Local Attractions

What attractions do hosts highlight to guests?

There are quite a few popular attractions in Charleston, including Port of Charleston Cruise Terminal, College of Charleston, Patriots Point, Charleston City Market, and Medical University of South Carolina. Below we've included the most popular local and regional landmarks hosts usually include in their Airbnb or Vrbo property listings. Many hosts like to show off lesser-known regional landmarks visitors might not have heard of.

Well Known Attraction

Port of Charleston Cruise Terminal

Included on 50% of listings

Well Known Attraction

Charleston City Market

Included on 50% of listings

Regional Landmark

Waterfront Park

Included on 50% of listings

Regional Landmark

South Carolina Aquarium

Included on 50% of listings

Regional Landmark

Patriots Point

Included on 50% of listings

Regional Landmark

USS Yorktown

Included on 50% of listings

Local Landmark

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

Included on 50% of listings

Regional Landmark

Charleston Harbor Marina

Included on 50% of listings

Well Known Attraction

Medical University of South Carolina

Included on 48% of listings

Well Known Attraction

College of Charleston

Included on 48% of listings

Well Known Attraction

Patriots Point

Included on 48% of listings

Regional Landmark

Medical University of South Carolina

Included on 48% of listings

What’s the weather like in Charleston, South Carolina?

The weather is generally warmer than the national average, with an average high temperature of around 75°, while the average low is about 60°. The rainfall is much heavier, averaging about 41 inches per year, compared to the national average of about 27 inches. Snowfall is scarce, with an average year having no snowfall. The humidity levels in Charleston are generally muggier than the national average, and the city has a mix of clouds and sunshine for most of the year.


December through February

45° Low 61° High

Muggy Days
3.2 days


March through May

59° Low 74° High

Muggy Days
23.2 days


June through August

75° Low 87° High

Muggy Days
86.3 days


September through November

62° Low 76° High

Muggy Days
38.3 days